Saturday was a beautiful day in Salt Lake City, so I played tourist in the morning and afternoon and visited Red Butte Garden and This Is the Place Heritage Park. Both were very scenic and interesting, and I recommend them if you're in the area!
After sightseeing I headed over to the rink for the final two groups of the ladies' free skate. It was the typical early season competition with lots of mistakes, but two performances stood out for me. Elizabeth Tursynbaeva, the young phenom from Kazakhstan, put on a jumping clinic, but I won't get too excited about her until she goes through puberty. Satoko Miyahara also pulled off some beautiful jumps, and she had much more performance style than Elizabeth. Her knees are so soft, and she seems to move effortlessly across the ice.
The free dance followed the ladies' free skate, and it was a shame that most of the crowd cleared out after the ladies. The final group of dancers put on a good show for an early season event. Madison Hubbell/Zach Donohue's Adagio from Tron program is a definite improvement over last year's free dance. This program showcases their power much better. I would lose the winged-costume, though.
I wasn't a fan of Laurence Fournier Beaudry/Nikolaj Sorensen's music, but I really love their skating and the passionate connection between them. Don't know if they're a couple off the ice, but they convince me they're a couple when they skate together. My favorite Canadian team of Elisabeth Paradis/Francois-Xavier Ouellette rounded out the podium with a gorgeous, lyrical program to "Bridge Over Troubled Water." I hope they can keep moving up the ranks in Canadian ice dance (quickly, please) because I enjoy their style so much. They exude happiness when they skate.
The new team of Danielle Thomas/Daniel Eaton continued to impress me with their togetherness for being a team for such a short time. There's obviously a skill-level difference between them (understandable since Danielle just tested up to senior), but I think they're off to a good start. They looked more in sync than some other new teams I've seen.
Saturday's action started with the short dance early this morning, and there were a few stumbles that marred the otherwise lovely waltzes. I first noticed the Danish team of Laurence Fournier Beaudry/Nikolaj Sorensen a few years ago, and it's been wonderful to see how much they've improved under the coaching of Deubreil/Lauzon. They are so striking together, and they were flying through the first pattern of the Ravensburger Waltz. Another team that keeps improving under D/L are the Canadians Elisabeth Paradis/Francois-Xavier Ouellette. They have that smooth, romantic style that the D/L camp fosters so well.
The American teams looked solid. Madison Hubbell/Zach Donohue took first as expected, and I think there's good potential for the new team of Danielle Thomas/Daniel Eaton. I believe they look much more well-matched than Daniel and Alexandra did.
After the short dance it was time to hop over to the pairs free skate warm-up. It's great to see how supportive all the pairs are of each other with training mates applauding each other's completed elements. I'd like to thank the American teams for wearing their costumes so we could get a sneak peek at them!
I took a lunch break and made it back to the arena for the latter part of the ladies' short program. It was so great to see Angela Wang have a clean performance. She's such a stylish skater, and it would be awesome if she could put together more performances like this.
The pairs free skate followed, and I love, love, love both Marissa/Mervin's and Tarah/Danny's programs. They're so different, but they are both fantastic. There are so many little choreographic gems in Marissa and Mervin's Journey program. Once they can get more mileage on it and can solidify the jumps, I think it will be a roof-raiser. Tarah and Danny's "Music of the Night" program is much softer and more lyrical, but it is equally a crowd pleaser. I love all the dance lifts sprinkled throughout the program and how it builds to the trademark Team Florida final-twenty-seconds lift.
The men closed out the evening, and the highlight for me was Shoma Uno. He reminds me of a little Daisuke Takahashi, and I am so excited to see what his future holds. He struggled a little with the jumps, but his basic skating is so gorgeous, and he was fully committed to the emotion of the program despite the jump issues. After Ross's awesome short program last night, I had high hopes for the long, but I have to say I'd like to see him go back to last year's long program. I felt like this new Queen program was kinda empty, and the loud vocals were very jarring.
For my full set of photos from today's events, click HERE.
Hello from Salt Lake City! This event has become so familiar to me that I don't need a GPS to get around the city anymore. I always enjoy this competition because I get to see lots of new programs for the first time. Even though many of the skaters are still working out the kinks in said programs, it's exciting to see the result of the work they've done over the summer.
I flew in early this morning and booked it from the airport to the rink to catch the pairs short program warm-up. Both Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran and Tarah Kayne/Danny O'Shea looked in fine form, landing their jumps in unison. I also got to see Tarah and Danny's new throw triple Lutz, which is done out of the cartwheel transition they used last year before their throw Salchow. Very impressive!
Unfortunately, the success on the side by side jumps didn't carry over to the competition. Both teams missed them, but on the bright side all their other elements were solid. Marissa and Mervin looked very fast and smooth, and I loved the fire in the choreography of Tarah and Danny's program. I also loved Gretchen Donlan/Nate Bartholomay's "All That Jazz" program, and I'm generally not a fan of that music.
The men took the ice next for their short program. The shocker in the first group was Shoma Uno, the young Japanese sensation, having all sorts of jump problems and finishing way down in the standings. In the second group, I got to see Andrew Dodds of Australia for the first time, and I really enjoyed his "Empty Chairs Empty Tables" program. I also enjoyed another new-to-me skater, Christophe Belley-Lemilin of Canada. He skated to a cover of "Breakeven" and had a nice modern dance style to his skating. Finishing out the group was Ross Miner, and his new program to "New York State of Mind" is a winner. With Ross's speed and flow across the ice, he really commanded the upbeat, jazzy music and also showed a lot of personality.
I adored Timothy Dolenksy's "Cinema Paradiso" program, but his triple Axel unfortunately abandoned him. His footwork sequence was my favorite of the night. Daniel Samohin of Team Israel was a new name to me, and his two quads certainly left a lasting impression. I could've done without back-to-back Scorpion programs in that last group, though. The lead singer's voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me.
Check out the rest of my photos from Thursday's events HERE.
Tomorrow will be a busy day! In the morning I'll be hopping between the short dance and the pairs free skate warm-up, then possibly catching the last group of ladies, and then closing out the day with the pairs and men's free skates.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White performed in Michael Weiss's Ice Champions Live show this weekend, and my friend Debbie attended and took a couple of video clips for us! The first is the opening of Meryl and Charlie's new show program to "Dog Days Are Over," and the second is Charlie participating in a fun spread eagle contest with Brian Boitano and Michael Buckley.
I'm celebrating the completion of the Ice Series with a 99 cent sale on the first book in the series! Click on the cover below to pick up CROSSING THE ICE for less than a buck!
Falling hard never felt so good.
Pair skaters Courtney and Mark have one shot left at their Olympic dream. They vow not to let anything get in their way, especially not Josh and Stephanie, the wealthy and talented brother and sister team.
The heart doesn’t always listen to reason, though…
The more time Courtney spends with sweet, shy Josh, the harder she falls for him. But they are on opposite sides of the competition, and their futures are headed in opposite directions. Will their friendship blossom into more or are their paths too different to cross?